After robbing a strip club, three desperate teenage girls lead a misogynistic Federal Agent on a lysergic cross-country chase, scoring a duffle bag full of money, drugs, and a crew of willing kidnapees along the way.

Cast: Morgan Shaley Renew, Sanethia Dresch, Shelby Lois Guinn, Cleveland Langdale, Micha Peroulis, Mike Amason, Dove Dupree

Directors: Christopher Bickel
Writers: Christopher Bickel, Shane Silman

A pill-popping road trip filled with violence, sex and rock n’ roll awaits you within Bad Girls. And this is one of the craziest films I’ve watched in some time. It is, however, well aware of what it wants to be and the target audience. Russ Meyer and Grindhouse/Exploitation fans will feel at home here, but unlike some films that try to be a homage and fall into becoming a bore, Bad Girls feels unique, the owner of its voice and a movie of today, not one wishing it was the 70’s.  

Director Christopher Bickel doesn’t hold back as the films first five minutes is nothing but a music video montage of violence introducing our trio of girls. Val (Morgan Shaley Renew), Mitzi (Sanethia Dresch) and Carolyn (Shelby Lois Guinn) rob a stip club a leave with a bag of cash, steal a car and head across the country, with the border to Mexico being their final destination. They stop to humiliate and torture a young couple making out in a car, gather some guns from a dingy gun store and come across Val’s and Mitzi’s favourite bands playing concerts where they kidnap Bard Gainsworth (Cleveland Langdale) and Xerox Rhodesia (Micha Peroulis). As the night continues and now their idols drugged up and submissive, the girls take more considerable risks at the behest of a spiralling Val. Hot on the girl’s tails is the duo of FBI agents Cannon (Mike Amason), a misogynist hot-head, and McMurphy (Dove Dupree). 


Although the film’s first act until the girls arrive at the first concert lacks a proper direction, it’s the performances of the girls and the utter intensity of the violence that keep your attention. Bickel is shooting for shock-value a lot of the time, and why not? It’s what genre fans want. One moment I thought to myself, “there’s no way they’d do that”, and then they went ahead and did it anyway. 

The practical effects all look good, from heads blown off to vicious stabbings. If there’s one thing holding back the gore factor, it’s some cheap CGI blood being added afterwards that doesn’t quite hit the mark. But given the $16,000 shoestring budget of the film, a lot is being achieved here from Bickel and the crew. 

What I loved so much about Bad Girls is that it’s everything fans love about the cheap shock-horror flicks, but without the baggage. The sexiness of the cast is in-tack, without the need for a male gaze inspired camera. Add in some homoeroticism played straight for once and not as a joke, and it’s a refreshing take on the genre. 

Bad Girls takes some time to slow down a couple of points and let the drug-filled characters breathe and discuss life. Although not all of these slower moments work, and I definitely feel that Bad Girls could have been edited down to reach under the 90-minute mark easily, there is some necessity to these scenes. One discussion in a car about the worst thing each of the characters had done works to humanise these otherwise cartoonish characters. And I don’t mean that negatively. The world created in Bad Girls is so outlandish, and of another world, you don’t view the trio as the bad girls; they’re simply making the best of this crazed wasteland they’re living in called America. 

Talking about drugs: this film loves them. There isn’t one pivotal drug scene — no, the girls are popping pills the majority of the film and sharing with their two kidnapped rock idols to keep them idle. The lysergic acid trip leads to the movies most visually exciting scenes as the girls drive down the long highway road. 

The original soundtrack by Matt Akers and other licensed music ties this entire package together, and I’ve already tracked Akers work down on Bandcamp. The key ‘Bad Girls’ track is used several times throughout the film, and by the time the credits finished rolling, I had to know where I could stream it.

Bad Girls is a pedal-to-the-metal blistering blood bath through a corpse-ridded pathed fantasy land, and for fans of the genre, this will be one of the best films you can watch this year. 

Bad Girls was screened online as part of the Sydney Underground Film Festival 2021. The film doesn’t currently have a theatrical or VOD release date, but you can buy it via the official website.